How to teach "Writing friendly letters" in Form One

How to teach "Writing friendly letters" in Form One

Welcome to UNIT 21.2 

PREVIOUSLY: In Unit 21.1, we discussed about the various ways of teaching the sub topic “Analysing information from the media in Form One.       
IN THIS UNIT 21.2, we will cover the sub topic “"Writing friendly letters" in Form One.
Sub Topic: Writing friendly letters
Periods per sub topic: 8
Class: Form One
Letters are still important even during this digital age. No job is given without writing a letter. Even friendly letters are still important. We can write letters to our fellow workmates, or to our far friends to greet them or to inform them on certain important thing.
Everyone likes to be cared or remembered that's why we all love letters from our relatives, friends and other fellows we have met in our life. Letters from friends can make friendship even stronger. Likewise, letters from relatives make you feel closer to your relatives.
If you want to receive a letter, you should start by sending letters to others!
In this sub topic/lesson, the student should be able to write personal letters.
This stage is about the preparation of the teacher before undertaking the lessons of the particular sub topic. These are all activities, procedures, materials, teaching aids, and games prepared by the teacher for teaching a sub topic:
  1. Putting heads together: Introducing the topic/lesson properly. Organising how students will be able to get to know what is the topic/lesson about. It is where teacher makes sure that students are going to be in his/her train. It includes brainstorming and familiarisation of the topic/lesson with the students.
This makes students stay together with the teacher. It is at this stage students can understand what is going to be discussed in the particular topic.
In this sub topic/lesson, the teacher has to guide students to brainstorm on important aspects of the sub topic/lesson such as meaning of letter and friendly/personal letter among other things.
  1. Preparation of Materials. A teacher has to decide on the teaching/learning materials he/she is going to use.
In this sub topic/lesson, a teacher will have to prepare a variety of models of personal letters.
  1. Target Practice. Show them/Guide them to the practice of the functions of the sub topic. A teacher has to show or guide students to the target practice of the grammatical functions of the sub topic.
In this sub topic/lesson, the teacher will guide students to practice how to write personal letters by using some important steps and terms considered when writing personal letters such as:
Seat mother/father/friend/uncle
Hi dad, mum.
Hi aunt Liza,
Loving daughter
Your loving......
Missing you.
  1. Context-Based Practice. A teacher leads students to the discussion on how the target grammatical functions practised earlier can be applied or integrated into the contexts and situations. The students are guided by the teacher to apply the learnt skills in relevant contexts and situations like school and library.
In this sub topic/lesson, the teacher will apply the context of the class, school, and home as he/she practices with students how to write personal letters.
To be more realistic, the teacher may ask students to come with their letters they wrote to or received from friends or relatives. They have to bring the letters that they are willing to share with others. These shared letters can bring more realistic activities to students.
  1. Vocabulary Building Practice. At this time, teacher discusses with the students on the vocabularies and phrases to apply in the already mentioned contexts and situations.
In this sub topic/lesson, the most commonly applied vocabularies are: aunt, uncle, niece, nephew, cousin, grandmother, grandfather, grandparent, envelope, stamp, post, homesick, John Hamisi, Joyce.
Guide the students to the full lesson procedures, activities and games for better understanding of the sub topic by following these activities:
ACTIVITY ONE: Brainstorming. The teacher has to brainstorm with the students on the sub topic/lesson's aspects through oral questions with answers, pair works, and group discussions of all important concepts to get students on track.
In this activity, the teacher will have to brainstorm with students the things required when writing a friendly letter. Because students have brought some sample letters from home, here the teacher's task will be to brainstorm with students on the things and steps they need to write a friendly letter. Later in this lesson, they will learn how to practically write their own letters by using these steps, format and appropriate language.
The following are the requirements for writing a friendly letter:
1. Choose a friend you want to write a letter to.
This might a friend you haven't seen each other for a long time or just a special person you want to talk to through a letter. Also you may just want to write to pen pal friend.
2. Gather the ideas to be included in your letter.
You can list ideas you want to share with your friend. These are the details you need to write your letter. Some of these ideas can be:
Tell your friend what's on your mind.
Describe something to your friend.
Ask your friend some questions.
Tell your friend some important moments you had.
Share a good story with your friend.
Inform your friend about your plans, etc.
3. Write a letter (the new one that isn't a reply)
You can choose any idea listed above and write a letter about it to your friend.
4. Write a reply letter if you are just writing back to your friend.
If you are just replying to a letter you received, you can follow the same procedure and answer the questions your friend asked or share another thing with him/her.
5. Improve your letter by editing it.
We always make mistakes and we can't trust the first material. So you need to revise your letter so as it looks good. Check your grammar and spellings. The letter with bad grammar and misspelt words will be boring to your friend.
6. Address the letter on the envelope.
Make sure you fold your letter properly so that it neatly fit into your envelope. Write the address clearly and correctly on your envelope so as it reaches its destination well.
7. If necessary, include a P.S. Comment after finishing the letter.
ACTIVITY TWO: Teacher's Demonstration. Teacher applies his/models or examples so as to bring the topic/lesson and the students into the real or common sense of the topic/lesson.
In this activity, the teacher has to demonstrate how to write friendly letters to students.
This is perfectly done by guiding students to study the format of personal letters by using teacher’s model letters.
The most common structure or format of friendly letter involves five (5) important parts which are:
1. The heading
2. The salutation
3. The body
4. Closing
5. Signature
In some other formats, a friendly letter has the following parts.
1. Sender's address. It's written in a straight or diagonal form on the top right corner of the letter.
2. Date. It's written on the right-hand side below sender's address.
3. Salutation. The opening of the letter. It's mostly 'Dear' or 'Dear' plus a name of the receiver like Dear Asha. This salutation is extended by other structures like 'How are you doing' etc.
4. Main body. It's where the information or purpose of the letter is conveyed. It should be in short paragraphs with simple language.
5. Conclusion. In this case, the writer ends or concludes the letter with statements like 'I hope we will meet soon' or 'I hope to hear from you soon' or 'Say hello to everybody there', etc.
6. Complimentary close( closure). It's always a single line with one word that ends with a comma. These compliments are like 'Yours', 'Your Friend', 'With Love', 'Lots of Love', etc.  After this, two lines are skipped for writing a signature.
7. Signature. This is always a first name in friendly letters because it's assumed that friends know each other. It's not even an autograph. It's a mere name.
8. Name. The full name after signature is only applied in official letters.
Ask students to show their letters they wrote to or received from friends sometimes ago. Maybe all students may not have the letters at their homes, so you may put them in groups to share the experience of friendly letters together.
Ask them if they can identify five parts of friendly letters in their letters. Some of their letters may lack all these parts, but they should be patient because in the next moment you will explain to them the meanings of each part of friendly letter and how they are positioned and written in the letter.
After having group discussion on various samples of friendly letters, now a teacher can introduce the meanings of these parts of friendly letters. These parts have the following meanings:
The heading. This part includes writer's address and the date. It's written in the upper right-hand corner.
The salutation. It's a greeting that usually begins with the word 'Dear' and is followed by the name of the person who will receive the letter.
When writing this salutation, place a comma after the name. It's written at the left-hand margin, just two lines below the heading.
The body. The body of the letter is what contains your thoughts and ideas. Begin writing this body of letter on the second line after the salutation. The paragraphs in this part should be short for easy reading.
The closing. For a closing your letter, write it two lines below the body of the letter. Capitalise only the first letter/word and follow it with a comma.
The signature. The signature is written under the closing of the letter. This is just like the signature they sign in various school forms although here they are just needed to write their first name.
The teacher can now go on presenting his/her sample to students so that they can cement their understanding before they practice for themselves.

Karema Secondary School,
P.O. Box 155,
22nd February, 2017

Dear Marry,
How are you? Do you like your new school? Bakari and I are in Form IA at Karema Secondary School. It's not far from our village. It's a good school. We like it! We do a lot of reading and writing. We talk English all day. It's not easy but we enjoy it. I'm working hard and Bakari is working hard too. Do you like your new school? Will you write to me and tell me about it?

Say hello to your brother Jacob.
A. Answer each question with one word.
1. Who wrote the letter?
2. Who is she writing to?
3. Which school is Elia at?
4. What is the name of Elia's brother?
5. What is the name of Marry's brother?
B. Write out the questions and then complete the answers. One word in each space.
1. Which school does Elia go to?
Elia is at .....  .......  .......
2. Is his bother at the same school?
Yes, his bother Baraka is......the
3. Do they like their new school?
Yes, they
4. Do they do a lot of reading and writing?
Yes, they do a lot of .......and......
5. Do they speak Kiswahili when they are at school?
No, they......  .........when they are at school.
ACTIVITY THREE: Students' Demonstration. Showing students how models like that of a teacher can be applied by them. Here students need to be guided on how to use given expressions, structures, vocabulary, and phrases or similar ones.
In this activity, the students in groups to demonstrate how to write friendly letters by using the above discussed formats and model letters.
ACTIVITY FOUR: More Students’ Practice. Taking/leading students to the real situations or contexts where they can apply what they have mastered. Here speaking, reading or writing activities are involved.
In this activity, students have to practice writing meaningful letters to different members of their family and friends.

Karema Secondary School,
P.O. Box 155,
22nd February, 2017

Dear .........,
Hello my mum! How are you doing? I hope everyone is fine there. My studies are going well. Teachers especially Teacher Simon misses you so much. They remember you the day you brought me here at first time. They say you are very vivacious.
I would like to ask for the permission and some money. I want go to Aunt Maria during holiday. I won’t spend the whole holiday there. I will stay for two weeks and i will finish other two weeks there at home.
Will you allow me and send some money for me?
Say Hi to everyone at home! Tell Asha to study hard for the next Standard IV exams. I will bring her some crops!
Lots of Love
Image credit:
ACTIVITY FIVE: Winding up the topic/lesson. Here teachers summarise the topic/lesson by emphasizing the importance of the sub topic/lesson and suggesting other related aspects of the sub topic/lesson.
ADDITIONAL ACTIVITY: As a teacher, what other activity can be applied in this sub topic/lesson? You can always drop your alternative activity or activities to this article so as to improve teaching and learning of ‘O’ Level English Blog! (OLE).
Our life is made successful with writing. Letters are important in our daily life as they play a great role both in our life careers and social lives. So, everyone should be used to the letters.
Ask students how they get greetings from their friends and relatives. Actually, some students will say they even write to their parents or grandparents or others. At school, they will say they get them from classmates, friends and from other fellows they meet apart from school life.
A teacher should design an evaluation for students by using appropriate assessment tools like oral questions or assignments so that to see if the student is able to write friendly letters.
Assessment #01: Group work
Set considerable number of groups and allow your students to write friendly letters. These groups should write each other on either a guided topic or on free topic. These letters should be presented before the class.
Assessment #02: Pair works
Guide students to form familiar pairs, that's, the pair should just consists of two familiar friends who should write the friendly letter to one familiar pair as well. There should be equal number of pairs so that they can match. If one pair doesn't match, the teacher can join one pair.
Assessment #03: Individual work
Lastly, each individual student should write a friendly letter to the classmate, schoolmate, parents, teacher or a relative and submit to the teacher.

Other Important Terms of Friendly letters
P.S. It's written at the end of the letter if you have already finished your letter and then remembers something you forgot to say in the letter. Thus, you should add a P.S. (postscript) at the bottom of letter right under your signature.
For example,
P.S. Write back soon!

R.S.V.P Comment is also written at the end of your letter to ask for an answer for your letter especially if you want to know whether or not the person you sent a letter will be coming to your event. It's written in the lower left-hand corner. It's mostly applied in invitations and it is followed by the phone number.
For example,
R.S.V.P. 0766414541

UFS is an abbreviation that means 'Under First Signature'. It means the letter should be routed through head of certain department. For example,
U.F.S: Permanent Secretary,
     Ministry of Health,
In Kiswahili letters, we normally use the abbreviations 'K.K' meaning 'Kupitia Kwa', that's, through a person or department that is also responsible for responding or reviewing the specific letter.

Note: You can give students more individual works, pair works, and group works to facilitate their interaction and understanding of the sub topic or lesson. As English language teacher you have to give students more works to do. Because language is meant to be largely spoken and written, the teacher should rely on written exercises and notes. Instead students have to learn English language by vigorously exercising individually, in pairs, and in groups.
Writing is a productive skill. After learning all four language skills during teaching and learning processes, finally the students will have to sit down and write the final exams. This highlights that writing is the necessary skill if a student really wants to excel in the final examinations. A teacher should emphasize this skill just he/she emphasize other language skills.
Letter writing on the other hand, is the extremely important professional and life career skill that every student should seriously take into consideration. Writing good friendly letters is a good foundation for mastery of other forms of letters like official letters. More practices on writing friendly letters will give students more confidence, boost their language, and letter writing skills as well.

NOTE: These stages explained above are not necessarily covered in a single lesson of single or double period. Remember that this is the guide for teaching the whole sub topic which has periods ranging from 6 to 20. So, the teacher's task is to divide these stages according to the total number of periods for a particular sub topic.


Title: “Form One English Language Notes with Grammar, Exercises and Key Answers”
Edition: 1st (2022)
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Kemper, Dave et all (1995) WRITERS EXPRESS: A Handbook for YOUNG WRITERS, THINKERS, AND LEARNERS, D.C. Heath and Company,

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Emmanuel Kachele is a founder and Blogger of KACHELE ONLINE Blog, an educational blog where 'O' Level English - 'OLE', 'A' Level English (ALE) and other related teaching and life skills are shared extensively. This is an online center for all Tanzanian Secondary School English Language students and teachers (Forms I-VI) and all interested English Language learners and teachers worldwide.

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